Heavy Reading

Session Management, IMS, and the Future of Session Border Controllers

Session management is emerging as the focal point of the telecom industry for service provisioning, management, and maintenance. The growing importance of session management reflects the evolution of telecom services, which went from focusing exclusively on physical connectivity (Layers 1 and 2 of the OSI model) to centering on the network and transport layers as companies interconnected IP networks. Now with all applications converging on a single IP transport network, the focus has shifted to the OSI application layers: Layer 5 (the session layer), Layer 6 (the presentation layer), and Layer 7 (the application layer).

The challenge for today's service providers is that session management requires information, coordination, and management not only at the session layer, but between the applications at Layer 7 down to the network at Layers 3 and 4, and some would say including Layer 2 multiprotocol label switching (MPLS). Session border controllers (SBC) were created to sit at the network's edge and facilitate interconnection of voice over IP (VOIP) networks, but have now been deployed as a device to serve the coordination function between the VOIP application and the IP network. With the introduction of wide-scale deployment of service provider next-generation networks (NGNs) along with standards such as the 3GPP's IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and ETSI's Tispan (Telecom & Internet-converged Services & Protocols for Advanced Networks), the session management functions are being distributed across the infrastructure.

Session Management, IMS, and the Future of Session Border Controllers analyzes the role of SBCs in the broader context of session management and examines how their role may change with the arrival of NGNs, IMS, and Tispan standards. The report includes results of an exclusive worldwide survey of 80 network operators regarding session management and SBC deployment plans. The fundamental question this report addresses is how service providers manage sessions across multiple networks and how the role of the SBC will evolve with the broader adoption of session management.


The methodology of this report was designed to gather information and identify trends relating to industry views on session management in general and the evolving role of SBCs in particular. To do this, Heavy Reading conducted in-depth interviews with marketing and network professionals from service providers including cable companies, global network and wholesale VOIP providers, and local VOIP services providers. We also conducted in-depth, one-on-one interviews with product, marketing, and technical personnel from 23 equipment vendors, including SBC vendors, large telecommunications infrastructure providers, and SBC-related equipment providers.

For a list of companies profiled and evaluated in this report, click here.

We also conducted an exclusive, worldwide survey of network operators to gauge their plans for session management and SBC deployment. The survey drew responses from 80 service provider professionals -- representing more than 60 different incumbent and competitive operators.

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Report Scope and Structure

Session Management, IMS, and the Future of Session Border Controllers is structured as follows:

Section I is an introduction to the report, with complete report key findings.

Section II discusses session management's role in service provisioning, management, and maintenance. This section examines the evolution in the industry that has led to the focus on session management, as well as the challenges it presents.

Section III examines the state of SBCs today, including their functions and applications, as well as how they are evolving with the introduction of IMS and Tispan. It also discusses how SBC functionality is disaggregating and where some of this functionality is migrating in NGNs using the IMS/Tispan architecture.

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Section IV examines the service provider perspective on session management and SBCs, drawing on our survey of carrier professionals and interviews with service provider organizations.

Section V analyzes and summarizes key SBC companies and their products. It also provides perspective regarding the evolution of these products in light of IMS/Tispan and trends toward integration with other network elements.

The report is essential reading for a wide range of industry participants, including:

Session management and SBC technology suppliers: How will the ongoing shifts in service provider session management strategies affect your business? Where are the new opportunities for market growth? Are your products and marketing messages in line with customer plans and expectations? Are there significant gaps in your product line coverage that need to be addressed to meet future demand?
Other telecom equipment suppliers: How will carrier plans to deploy session management affect other equipment buying decisions? Which technologies are emerging as the most likely winners for tomorrow's networks? Is your company in position to take advantage of those anticipated changes?
Telecom service providers: How do your session management deployment plans compare with those of your competitors? Does your strategy deliver the most cost-effective option for your network, or are there alternatives that will deliver greater efficiency? Which technology suppliers are best positioned to deliver the solutions you need?
Investors: Which technologies are emerging as the winning solutions for next-gen carrier networks, and which companies are the leading providers of those solutions?

Session Management, IMS, and the Future of Session Border Controllers is published in PDF format.

PRICE: $3,795
Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
Longo has had considerable experience with voice and IP services on the service provider side during his more than 20 years in the telecom industry...
Click here for full list of vendors included in this report
67 pages of analysis covering current and projected deployment of session management and SBC technology in carrier networks
Full results of an exclusive worldwide survey of 80 service provider professionals, representing more than 60 different carriers, regarding plans for session management and SBC deployment
Products and strategies detailed for 23 different technology providers and equipment manufacturers
Complete evaluation of the impact that emerging technologies such as IMS and Tispan will have on service provider use of session management
Detailed analysis of technology options available to service providers for incorporating session management into their networks
PRICE: $3,795
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